Tuesday, 8 May 2012

'Drag Him Away' National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV)

'Drag Him Away'
National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV)

This story first appeared on shots, 8/05/12

The NCDV wanted to talk about how an injunction can very quickly (within 24 hours) get an abuser 
out of the home, allowing the victim to take back some control, without a constant threat in the house. 

The injunction actually states the abuser must be 100m away from the victim. This was a really interesting fact – a real nugget – that was just begging to be used.

What’s more, a third party can help instigate the injunction by approaching the ncdv themselves. So that was the brief: distance + intervention. The next question. How? 

We played with all sorts of ideas involving distance – from trying to corrupt Google Maps and Google Streetview to creating Adshels that recognise your face at 100m. None of them were quite right. Either too complicated to execute or too costly.

We very nearly ran it on a large interactive screen in a shopping centre where a passer-by could literally drag the man away by using a touch screen. It seemed like a great idea, until we realised the screen was only 8ft long. So in reality the 'nasty bastard', as we started to call him, would still be within a few feet of the poor woman, when he’d been dragged away. Not far enough for anyone’s liking. Plus the shopping centre owners were nervous about the whole tone of the piece and how it might upset their shoppers.

By this point Neil Morris from Grand Visual was involved, talking to various media owners, sourcing interactive screens that could host the idea and utilise Grand Visual’s Agentplatform, which enables mobile and digital out of home interaction. Enter JCDecaux and their large format e-motion screens in Euston Station. From there we quickly got to the idea of our man being moved across the screens after being ‘dragged away’ on a mobile screen in the concourse.

So the media was sorted.

But typically the director now wasn't. He'd just been confirmed on another job and couldn’t do it. Anthony Falco and Toby Clifton quickly stepped in and approached the BAFTA nominated Samuel Abrahams at Smuggler. With only a few days notice he sorted it – casting two very real characters who gave great performances. The male character really let fly. Which looks even more disturbing when it's mute. 

A key factor in the execution of the work was how our man appears as he’s dragged away. We did several tests and found the optimum was to keep him doing the same action, but slowly take him away from her. At one point he was going to react to a cursor dragging him away but it felt a bit over the top and hammy - we didn’t want it to appear like a game, so had to be sensitive in his actions. We tried moving him at several speeds. Too fast and it looked comedy, too slow and you lose the impact of the line.

We really wanted the public to intervene. We thought it would feel quite empowering to physically get the Nasty Bastard away from her. You’d feel like you’d done something good on the way through the station, where the 30-minute dwell time was more than enough for people to become interested and interact with the work.

The way the work ended up is probably in its best format. In a large public space where people can feel empowered by intervening in the abuse by using their phone. We hope they’ll use their phones in the future, if they ever come across a real case of domestic abuse.

Technology has completely changed the landscape when it comes to sectors like print and poster. Ideas should and will always be king. But (as creatives) we need to be aware of new ever-changing technology and how we can use it to our advantage. 

Ideally you want to be first to use the technology in the most creative manner possible. In the pre-digital era this idea would maybe have involved twin 48 sheets - adjacent poster sites - where the man is in one poster the woman in the other. An ok idea, but a bit static. 

This version is more involving and dynamic. Technology has enriched the viewers experience by allowing them to participate and hopefully make the communication stronger and more memorable.

The impact that the mobile phone is having on interactive advertising is staggering. I bet this idea will be out of date before the year is out. 

But however fast the technology develops, we should always try and make the idea relevant to the technology. Or better still, make the technology relevant to the idea...."

This story first appeared on shots, 8/05/12

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